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Silencio Celebrates 10 Years on the Croisette

Founder Arnaud Frisch recounts his favorite memories of the Parisian club’s pop-up, including the time Marion Cotillard cooked with Jean Imbert, and Isabelle Huppert shot a scene with Hong Sang-soo.

Silencio Celebrates 10 Years on the Croisette

Jean Imbert and Marion Cotillard at Silencio Cannes.

Silencio is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its Cannes pop-up. The venerable Paris club designed by David Lynch decamped to Cannes in 2011 (it took two years off during the pandemic), and has grown from its first intimate rooftop location to a cavernous club venue inside the Palais des Festivals.

Founder Arnaud  Frisch first set up stakes at the Five Hotel on rue d’Antibes. The quiet, poolside restaurant perched above Cannes quickly became the go-to address, with the likes of Sean Penn and Steven Spielberg stopping by in its first year. Catherine Deneuve, Wes Anderson and David Cronenberg are some of the other big names that roll off of Frisch’s tongue.

“We had so many talents who showed up, for their film or just to enjoy,” he said. “The first location was very small.”

Silencio quickly moved to the more spacious private penthouse of Casino des Fleurs on rue des Belges the following year.

Early on it became famous for after parties, such as the “Clouds of Sils Maria” fete that brought the film’s stars Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart and Chloë Grace Moretz to the rooftop. It was a year before the “Heelgate” controversy, which changed the festival’s red carpet footwear policy, and Stewart famously changed out of the teetering high heels that accompanied her sparkly Chanel pantsuit on the red carpet into comfier running shoes for the film’s celebration.

Silencio Celebrates 10 Years on the Croisette

Kristen Stewart attends the “Clouds of Sils Maria” afterparty at Silencio hosted by Chanel.

The maze of rooms, with a restaurant at one end and staircases to a series of gardens, led to some intimate interactions among celebrity guests.

One night, Marion Cotillard popped by to step behind the stoves and help out friend and chef Jean Imbert, who was helming the kitchen.

“Jean was so young, and it was the first time we were working together,” said Frisch of the “Top Chef” winner, who is now head of the city’s Palme d’Or restaurant, as well as Monsieur Dior in Paris, among other high-profile venues. “He was still a young chef coming from TV and we did this first year, and there was a night Marion Cotillard came and cooked with him. She had come from the red carpet [but] she had changed out of her dress.

“They were really good friends and she was just helping for fun,” he said. But the actress took her role seriously with responses of “Yes, chef,” as required. Stewart, by then a Cannes regular, also hit the kitchen with Imbert that year.

Frisch and Imbert’s working relationship grew from there. They collaborated on the opening of Silencio’s Ibiza outpost in 2021.

Silencio Celebrates 10 Years on the Croisette

(L-R) Guest, Claire Denis, Hong Sang-soo and Isabelle Huppert at Silencio Cannes.

The second Silencio location also ended up in the 2018 film “Claire’s Camera,” directed by Hong Sang-soo and starring Isabelle Huppert. Hong and Huppert had worked together on 2012’s “In Another Country” and after a casual meeting in Cannes, decided to shoot a film during the festival with the city as a backdrop. The off-the-cuff filmmaking style saw the team drop by Silencio one night for dinner — and to shoot a scene.

“Stars at Noon” director Claire Denis joined; it was she who introduced the pair at an art gallery in Paris years before. Those kinds of serendipitous moments made Silencio special, Frisch said.

That year was one for the history books: it also saw Palme d’Or winner Ruben Östlund pass through before he won his Palme.

Cast dinners were held earlier in the evening, with the “members only” club opening up at midnight to those granted a temporary Cannes card. Those coveted credentials went to specially selected festival-goers like actors, producers and distributors — meaning the movers and shakers of the film festival — as well as the film-adjacent spheres of fashion or music who were in town.

In 2019, Silencio moved to the Club Boulevard de la Republique, where it gave carte blanche to French disco-pop singer Corine. She created a Studio 54 vibe with mirrored interiors, colored neon lights, disco balls and lots of velvet, plus a menu that included candy apples.

After the pandemic cancellation in 2020 and a truncated edition in 2021, Frisch wanted to reopen the club, making it bigger and bolder.

“Since COVID[-19], we thought people wanted more to join together and to be in a different mood, so we took over the club inside the Palais and started programming great DJs during the whole festival, to make it the place to go after dinner,” he said. It’s quadrupled from its original capacity; the new location can host 800 guests.

Silencio Celebrates 10 Years on the Croisette

Romain Gavras and Dua Lipa at Silencio Cannes.

That’s led to bigger parties, including French electronic duo Justice spinning for the after party of Quentin Dupieux’s “Smoking Causes Coughing” premiere in 2022. Diplo also hit the turntables that year, invited by Pigalle Paris designer Stéphane Ashpool.

Dup Lipa stopped by in 2023 on the arm of Romain Gavras for the afterparty of Elias Belkeddar’s “The King of Algiers.”

“We’ve had some really cool moments where it was really fitting between the music, the film and the people that were there,” Frisch said. The new space is connected to the Palais, which makes it easier for people to pop in as soon as a premiere receives its last ovation.

Even the busiest man in Cannes, festival general delegate Thierry Frémaux, made an appearance after the screening of Catherine Corsini’s “Homecoming” last year.

The original Silencio was designed by David Lynch. Its cultural ties with cinema are so strong that it has since opened its own theater in Paris in 2021, where it hosts special screenings and invite-only talks with directors such as David Fincher.

The team that handles programming at the Paris locations year-round turns its attention to Cannes each spring.

This year, the group is working with fashion show lighting designer Lancelot Rumney-Guggenheim and cocktail creator Rémy Savage, and has booked some powerhouse musical names: Skepta is on the star-studded lineup.

While the team traditionally plans ahead for the venue, it’s always a last-minute scheduling scramble as the festival finalizes its film premiere schedule just days before the opening gala. “We are in contact with agents and PRs for the films, but usually they are selected quite late. Then we have discussions at the last minute for the parties for the films,” Frisch said.

This year’s invites are still TBD, but he wouldn’t give away that info anyway. It’s not called Silencio for nothing.

But does he partake in the partying?

“Yeah, when it’s not in Silencio,” Frisch jokes. On any given night, he’s busy making sure things run smoothly for the many stars who attend, as well as trying to make other social calls up and down the Croisette. “I prefer to dance where it is not my club, but sometimes it happens.”